Bryan Frazier didn’t quite know what he was getting himself into when he started looking for a downtown studio apartment back in 2015. “I just wanted to move downtown and have a studio apartment where I could have more space to do my art,” Frazier, a visual artist, musician and photographer, said. To that end, or so he thought, Frazier bought a flat-roofed, one-story brick building at 120 S. Cross St., about two blocks from Union Station and across the street from the Salvation Army. Frazier spent about a year remodeling to tailor the 2,300-square-foot space to his needs, and the slick transformation is HGTV-worthy.
“The studio was sort of a happy accident,” Frazier explains. “When I bought the building, I didn’t think I was going to build a recording studio.”
Frazier and Revolution sound engineer Mark Colbert started talking one day, though, and Frazier learned Colbert, also a producer, needed a place “to stash his gear for a bit.”
Once the remodel had begun, Frazier said, “we just sat down one day and I asked him, ‘You know, if we were to make this a proper recording studio, what would we need to do? What are the basics?’ And we decided to go for it, and here we are.”
Thus, Capitol View Studio was born.
Colbert is now the primary audio engineer at Capitol View Studio, and has already recorded several projects there, as well as running the business end of the recording studio.
Frazier painted the brick exterior a deep blue-gray and installed a garage door facing the street and opening into the main room, which is the studio’s centerpiece. Within the Big Room (as Frazier calls it) there are two booths: a control room and an isolation room for recording vocals. The studio’s logo on the back wall provides a backdrop for bands to play in front of; films can be projected onto the wall, too. Frazier envisions the space as a multipurpose venue. The main area can seat about 60 people, and there’s a small, comfortable lounge area with couches, a library and an ultra-modern gas fireplace. He also has room for a screen-printing project he’s working on. “I can kinda do it all here,” Frazier said. “It’s not too big, not too small. It’s a familiar space.
“I think that when people come to record at Capitol View Studio, they’ll come here for Mark’s talent and the unique space and feel here. It doesn’t sound like any other space in town, especially live drums in the Big Room. We got lucky. We really did. Because of the way I sprayed insulation in the ceiling and the way the room is broken up, it diffuses the sound really nicely; it’s live but it’s not super wet. It doesn’t sound muddy.”
Beyond the Big Room is Frazier’s kitchen, bedroom and another workspace with mixers that he calls “Studio B”; he records there for his project The Alpha Ray. Out the back door is a fenced-in parking lot with a small deck, where Frazier joked about wanting to shoot some “Tiny Deck Concerts” for YouTube. From the garage door to the back yard, Frazier has designed the whole space to feel inviting, and envisions plenty of open house events, as well as a film series. He’s now on the advisory boards for the Salvation Army and the Capitol Zoning District Commission. “We have some really cool plans for this block.”
The building is also home to another nonprofit entity, founded by Frazier as the Arkansas Music & Arts Foundation (AMAF), a 501(c)(3) organization that describes itself as “an exclusive philanthropic partner of Capitol View Studio, advocating the importance of visual arts, music and filmmaking in Arkansas.” The organization endows a photography scholarship of $1,000 that honors Frazier’s friend and the building’s previous owner, Rob Fisher, who died unexpectedly in 2016. Fisher, founder of the nonprofit Ecological Conservation Organization (ECO), and Frazier attended Henderson State University and took photography classes together, and the two later worked together on Arkansas Take Action, developing a “living petition” of video testimonies to free the West Memphis Three.
The $1,000 Robert J. Fisher Memorial Award is given annually to a photography student at HSU. “There’s a lot of work we have to do to carry on his legacy. It just makes sense to have that award be awarded to a Henderson photo student. I was an artist, he was an ecologist, and photography is kind of where art and ecology met for us.”
The Arkansas Music & Arts Foundation, while still in its infancy, has several public outreach and fundraising programs in the works in addition to the scholarship award, all slated to launch this year.
Colbert, who is partnering with CALS to teach an elementary level audio recording class at the Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library, is also teaching a more advanced class at Capitol View Studio.
Starting in June, the studio will play host to “The Bottega Brunch” on select Sundays, an art show where two artists display and speak about their work in person. For more information, and to keep in touch with Capitol View Studio’s upcoming projects, visit capitolviewstudio.com.
Capitol View Studio will open its doors to the public for a reception at 6 p.m. Saturday, April 15, and Joshua Asante (Amasa Hines, Velvet Kente) and Ghost Bones will perform at 9:30 p.m. The cover is $10.